NHL Thursday best bets: Islanders to snap lengthy losing streak
Well, Colorado announced just prior to puck drop that Darcy Kuemper - previously named starter - wasn't available to play. Instead, fringe NHLer Jonas Johansson got the nod in goal and the Maple Leafs absolutely feasted on him. Not ideal.
Luckily, we have a huge slate Thursday to get us back on track. Let's break things down.
This season couldn't be going worse for the Islanders. They've won just five times through 17 games and have dealt with a never-ending run of injuries and COVID-19 cases.
Thankfully, things appear to be trending in the right direction. The postponement of a couple games has given players time to get healthy again. Key members like Anders Lee and Adam Pelech have exited protocols. The expectation is those two, as well as veteran defenseman Andy Greene, will return to the lineup Thursday.
While the Sharks are a competent team, they have defensive issues. At five-on-five, they rank 24th in scoring chances against per 60 over the last 10 games. James Reimer has routinely masked their problems, but I'm not sure they can rely on tonight's starter, Adin Hill, to do the same. Reimer has saved 7.3 goals above expectation thus far while Hill sits at -2.7.
The Isles figure to have the edge in goal. They're getting key players back in the lineup. They're at home. If they don't right the ship fast, the season is as good as over, so they have serious motivation to put their best foot forward.
Back the Islanders to snap their eight-game skid.
Bet: Islanders (-130)
Colorado was flat-out embarrassed by Toronto on Wednesday night. But despite goaltending concerns, we're going right back to the well for this one.
The Avalanche are one of the better teams in the NHL at five-on-five. They should be able to walk all over the Canadiens, who are getting throttled in that game state. Over the last 10 contests, the Habs rank 31st in attempts against and expected goals against per 60 minutes. Their share of the expected goals sits at just 42%. Now, they'll be without one of their most effective full-strength players in Brendan Gallagher.
Making matters worse is the special teams matchup. Montreal has conceded 12.52 goals per 60 on the penalty kill this season. Only the Canucks have fared worse. That's a recipe for disaster against these Avs. Even missing key players, they lead the league in power-play goals over the last 10 games.
I think the Avalanche are going to outscore their problems, and then some, against the Canadiens in this one.
Bet: Avalanche inside regulation (-105)
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.